A British grandfather flying to Cancun for a vacation with his wife was detained for three days by Mexican authorities after his name was flagged on an international wanted list.
Anthony Inglis Smith, 65, was kept in a cold, dark cell at Cancun International Airport after arriving in Mexico, the Daily Mail reports.
Smith had been mistaken for an international criminal while traveling to Mexico with his wife Carole.
The man from Worthing, Sussex, said he has been suffering from insomnia, nightmares and depression since he was held in the airport cell.
Anthony Inglis Smith and his wife Carole had been saving money for the holiday for some time and they lost £3,000 over the incident.
He discovered he has the same name as other men with serious criminal histories and also has the same birthday as one of them.
“After much deliberating over whether or not I was a criminal, I was completely shocked when 24 hours later I was actually detained and separated from my wife,” Smith said. “Being detained in a cell for something that you haven’t done is definitely quite disorientating.”
Smith’s accommodations were far from what he had expected in a resort city.
“They showed me to a dingy, cold, 10-foot by 10-foot windowless cell with two thin mattresses on the floor and those flimsy airplane blankets,” Smith said. “My wife was escorted off to the hotel on her own, which she found frightening because she was in a new country and all by herself.”
During the detention, he was always supervised by a security guard who controlled every move he made, including in the bathroom.
‘This whole experience has seriously affected his wife, as well.
“She’s too frightened to go abroad now which is what we both love to do normally,” Smith said.
The man said he called the British Embassy for help, but was told they could not do anything about his situation unless he was officially arrested.
During detention, immigration officers recorded his finger prints and his eye color.
“I know there were suspicions I was a criminal but I was being treated like I was a serial murderer. I couldn’t even go to the toilet without the guard writing down my every move,” Smith said.
After three days during which he got little information about why he was being held, Anthony was allowed to fly home on the next British Airways flight out of Cancun.
His unusual middle name apparently convinced the Mexican authorities they had the wrong Anthony Smith.
Smith said he plans to write to the European Court of Human Rights.
Anthony said he contacted the American Embassy to ask why he was “flagged up” at the airport.
“When it was time to get back on the flight I was escorted by four people including a national security officer,” said Smith.
“I was tempted to turn to them and say, ‘I am 65, do you really think I am going to run?’ It was by far the most embarrassing walk of shame ever. All the passengers could see me.”
His wife Carole was able to return on the same flight.
“When we returned, the immigration lady at Gatwick said ‘nice holiday?’ They hadn’t even been informed about what just happened,” Smith said. “Apparently there should have been a big red cross on my boarding pass to show that I had been detained, but there wasn’t.”
Smith isn’t letting this drop.
“I will also be writing to the European Court of Human Rights,” said Smith. “Luckily I can see the humor in this but I still want to get to the bottom of it.”
“I’ve lost £3,000 over this, but it’s not about the money,” he continued, “it’s about clearing my name and making sure that I won’t have any further issues when I next go traveling.”
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: “Our staff offered advice to a British man who was detained and subsequently released by the Mexican immigration authorities. We provided details of local lawyers and how to make a complaint to the Mexican Institute of Migration.”
The U.S. Embassy said it could not comment on the case due to a government shutdown.
Source: Daily Mail (U.K.)